an in-browser emulation
of the program
XLENT have been providing 8-bit users with interesting print related software for a while now, but this marks their first attempt at a comprehensive word processing package. My initial impressions are that it's a thoroughly practical piece of software with some unique features, and is good enough to give the established favourites like Atariwriter and Paperclip a real run for their money.
The program comes in the slim A5 size plastic wallet popular with many companies, and this contains an unprotected program disk plus a detailed 56 page instruction manual. Unfortunately, the manual isn't indexed, but otherwise seems well written and organised. The disk includes DOS 2.5, so the 130XE's ramdisk can be used, if required.
While the program is by no means completely 'intuitive' in use, the author seems to have tried hard to make it nice to work with. He's included such features as variable background and text colours and intensities, choice of flashing block or underline cursor, selectable insert or overtype mode, and joystick or keyboard input for cursor movement and scrolling.
The main edit screen is divided into three areas, these being a tab/ruler line, a twenty line editing window, and a four line command window. The command window is used for status, prompt, and error messages from the program's various functions. It also contains six icons for selecting print, copy, cut, paste, search and disk utility functions. To use these you simply select the required icon and then follow the prompts appearing in the window alongside. It couldn't be easier.
Many of the prompts require a reply through the keyboard. The most frequently needed reply is already on screen as a default, so all you need do is hit Return. In the unlikely event of you getting stuck and not knowing what to do next, pressing the Esc key once or twice will return you to edit mode. Strangely, you don't usually return to your original position in the text, and sometimes find the typing mode has changed too. If you need even more assistance there are four help screens packed with useful information available at a push of the Help key.
Editing is very straightforward, with Cursor, Insert, Backspace, and Delete keys doing just what you'd expect. In fact, the operation of the Delete key has been augmented somewhat. Shift Delete brings up a menu in the command window, giving you the choice of deleting to end of word, line, sentence, or paragraph. Sensibly, the default is for line – again exactly what you'd expect.
Less frequently used functions are accessed by pressing Shift Control plus a third key. This permits operations such as counting words; turning wordwrap on and off; calculating number of disk sectors required to save the document; marking up to five distinct positions in the text and then jumping to any of them as required (VERY useful); changing cursor shape, background and text colour and intensity; key repeat and joystick response speeds; and highlighting all the additional spaces shown on the screen resulting from wordwrap or return characters.
A buffer is used to handle the copy, cut, and paste functions. It's only 800 bytes long though (one screen), which can sometimes be a limitation. Unusually, this buffer may be edited, so you can copy something into it, change it, and then paste the new version back into a document. You can also create new text in it, either by keying it directly or loading a file from disk.
What can I say except this XLEnt product really lives up to its name! It's friendly, reliable (apart from the odd idiosyncrasy), and chock full of useful features. The only extra items I'd like to see included are a good spell checker, automatic heading levels and table of contents generation –perhaps XLEnt will add these later. And if they wanted to be really innovative they could add an outline processor and thesaurus, too. Now that WOULD be something to shout about!
All in all this product represents great value for money. If you're considering buying a word processor, make sure you see this one before you decide. I think you'll like it.